By Zhang Ruijie
On 17 April 2021, the troop organised a basha training session for the scouts. Basha is a core part of camp development. The state of a basha reflects on a scout's attitude and would affect their experience when camping outdoors. It also trains the scouts in their communication, coordination, and teamwork.
Pitching a Basha
Basha is one of the most essential equipment for scouts during camps. The main utility of a basha is to provide shelter and a place for scouts to sleep during the night. It is also used to protect equipment from the elements.
The troop has the highest basha standards of all the scout troops in Singapore. The troop's bashas are designed differently compared to other scout troops with the purpose of maximising their durability to weather against any natural elements. They are capable of keeping scouts and their equipment safe and dry, while reflecting the troop's top-notch camping standards.
The bashas are also highly versatile. For example, small bamboo poles can be added to make the 4 corners more compact while enabling the basha to be pitch on sandy terrain. The troop has also started employing a new method to tie counter tension which holds tension better than the previous method.
Both the time taken to build a basha and the quality of it are imperative during camps. This is especially critical during the troop's yearly June camp at Pulau Ubin where the weather is strong and unpredictable during that time of year due to the monsoon season. Due to this, our troop places critical emphasis that patrol members communicate and work in tandem with one another as a team, building one basha within 6 mins with a team of 4 scouts or 2 ventures.
To maintain stability, equal forces must be applied throughout the basha. Ensuring that the forces applied are equal prevents creases from forming. Creases collect water which weighs down and compromises the structural integrity of the basha. Furthermore, our troop uses military-grade groundsheets further reinforced by 3M hydrophobic coating to ensure sheets are truly waterproof.
Maintaining and organising their equipment were also heavily emphasised to the scouts.
Firstly, the condition of the equipment is a key factor in pitching a basha capable of withstanding the elements. If the bamboo is cracked, or the comms-cord is frayed or knotted, the basha would not hold up even if it was built perfectly.
Secondly, organising the equipment neatly ensures that any equipment can be found easily and prevents any equipment from being lost. This is important during camps as any equipment lost cannot be replaced.
Learning by example
Scouts were drafted into patrols according to their levels. Practice sessions were then conducted, followed by a basha competition near the end of training.
Ventures were allocated to each patrol as mentors to facilitate learning. The ventures aimed to inculcate a sense of urgency and a “quality over quantity” mindset in the scouts.
For the first practice, ventures took on the role of a Patrol Leader and guided the patrol in building a basha, delegating tasks and helping to coordinate the scouts during the practice. The ventures took charge of the first round of practice to help the scouts achieve a perfect basha for their first attempt. This would allow the scouts to realise that they could finish a perfect basha under the time limit allocated to them.
This ultimately gave them a confidence boost and established a goal for them to achieve and improve on. The PL was also provided an opportunity to learn by the example of the ventures on how to lead their patrol during the practice. Afterward, the PL would take over and lead the patrol for the rest of the training.
The PL played a vital role in coordinating the actions taken by his patrol. He must learn to understand the strengths and weaknesses of his members so that he could maximise the manpower distributed to boost efficiency and keep to a high standard. He must also prioritise the most important steps to ensure the process advances smoothly.
By then, the scouts were all well-versed in building a basha and should not be idle when they accomplish their given task. They should be aware of their surroundings and have the initiative to provide support to others or continue with other parts of the basha. This was so that the PL would not overextend himself and optimises every second of time.
The ventures would observe both the process and result of each practice session done by the patrol. After each practice, the ventures would give an overview of the patrols' performance with the scouts so that they could understand their mistakes and learn how to improve.
These mistakes not only included basha-building skills but also soft skills like leadership, coordination, and communication, amongst others. Then, the scouts would reflect on their mistakes and plan out how they can improve on their shortcomings for their next attempt to achieve a ‘perfect’ basha.
To keep the ball rolling and motivate the scouts to put in their best efforts, a basha building competition was held amongst the patrols of each level.
The competitive spirit, friendly rivalries between the patrols, and the achievement of being the best patrol in their level motivated the scouts to work their hardest. Each patrol was driven to attain the highest standard and fastest time possible to prove that they are the best.
They were focused, working together like a well-oiled machine, and made full use of their abilities. They worked with a sense of urgency and showed the initiative to support their patrol mates while prioritising the most important parts of a basha.
Evacuation is a skill our scouts are trained in as a test of their ability to optimise and prioritise objectives in a high-stress scenario. It is a test of their true understanding of the basha and which components contribute most to its structural integrity, while remaining adaptable and nimble to achieve mission success.
Despite being their first evacuation, the scouts worked efficiently with a sense of urgency, quickly moving their bashas and equipment, before setting up their inspections. Each equipment was neatly placed in a standardised set-up that allows the ventures to easily check for missing equipment with just one glance.
The scouts learned to stay calm under such instances and to be observant and aware of their surroundings for any equipment on the ground. This experience would be beneficial to them, should such a scenario happen in a proper camp.
In the end, many of the patrols were able to hit goals set for them and everyone made significant improvements. As Catholic High Scout Group is a premier scout troop, it has high expectations of the scouts. Similarly, the scouts would not settle for the bare minimum and are now even more motivated to aim higher and achieve excellence.
Below is the link to Catholic High Scout Troop - Camp Development - Basha Tent Demonstration video: